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Nearly 180 people have died as a result of General Khalifa Haftar’s assault on Tripoli, with at least four civilians killed in a bombardment on the Libyan capital overnight. More than 800 people have been wounded since the warlord who controls the east of the country began his attempt to seize the city from the UN-recognised government of national accord nearly a fortnight ago. Residents in Tripoli spoke of a terrifying night-time assault with missiles hitting areas of the city indiscriminately and the sound of explosions echoing across neighbourhoods close to the city centre. Video footage showed emergency workers in streets illuminated by fires from burning cars and buildings. Residents reported hearing blasts in Hay al-Andalus and Abu Salim, districts straddling the two main roads heading south towards the Haftar-controlled town of Gharyan and towards the contested site of the old international airport. Interactive “Been hearing bombs throughout this morning! What? Who? How?” tweeted Nuha Dadesh, one resident. “And I can also hear jets in the air. I can’t decide how far or close they are, but I don’t wanna know.” MuhannedK tweeted he was in touch with his family close to the areas being struck. “Tonight it was a close call, the areas hit keep getting only blocks away from where my family resides. We suffered hits and damage in 2011, 2014, 2018. I hope to god not again. I spent the entire night just messaging my family to make sure they are ok.” The government in Tripoli denounced Haftar’s attacks as barbaric, adding: “The indiscriminate attacks showed his forces lacked a shred of humanity.” The prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, visited some of the sites struck by missiles after which he called for three days of mourning. He said evidence of the brutal attacks on civilian neighbourhoods would be handed to the international criminal court (ICC). The UN special envoy for Libya, Ghassan Salamé, tweeted: “A horrible night of random shelling of residential areas. For the sake of 3 million citizens in Greater Tripoli, these attacks should stop now.” The government said it would try to launch counter-assaults against Haftar’s Libyan National Army in eastern Libya by trying to seize back control of the city of Benghazi. It also claimed to be attacking the Haftar forces’ supply lines to the south of Tripoli. The LNA denied responsibility for the attacks, but street demonstrations in Tripoli blamed Haftar. The government is likely to lose support in the densely populated capital if it cannot protect civilians from Haftar’s missiles. The descriptions of the strikes suggest the use of ground-launched missiles known to be in Haftar’s arsenal after his forces showed off BM 21 multiple launch rocket systems and Scud B launchers at a parade last year. Analysts were, however divided whether the barrage was the precursor to a wider assault on Tripoli by Haftar’s fighters or evidence that the fighting was settling into a bloody stalemate. So far, government appeals to world leaders to press Haftar to end his assault have been ineffective, even though its call has support in Italy, the UK and Germany. Italy is leading the mediation efforts to secure a ceasefire, and is concerned that a prolonged civil war could lead to tens of thousands of refugees and migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. Libya is on the brink of an all-out civil war that threatens to upend years of diplomatic efforts to reconcile two rival armed political factions. An advance led by Khalifa Haftar, the warlord from the east of the country, has diplomats scrambling and the UN appealing in vain for a truce. The French government, the European power closest to Haftar, insists it had no prior warning of his assault, which is closing in on the capital, Tripoli. The outcome could shape not just the politics of Libya, but also the security of the Mediterranean, and the relevance of democracy across the Middle East and north Africa. For more about the fighting in Libya read our quick guide. Photograph: Hani Amara/X03394 Matteo Salvini, the far-right Italian interior minister, kept up his coded attacks on the French support for Haftar, saying: “Someone tried a blitz in Libya. It didn’t go well. Someone certainly supported this blitz, not Italy. The Italian government is working as a firefighter. Let’s hope that there are not just a few of us doing that. Let’s hope that the international community helps is to restore peace to the centre of Libya’s objectives.” Fatou Bensouda, the chief prosecutor at the ICC, said she would bring charges against those responsible for humanitarian crimes including attacks on civilians. In a statement, she said: “I remind all parties that any person who incites or engages in such crimes including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to the commission of crimes within the jurisdiction of the court is liable to prosecution.” The government largely has the support of the UN special envoy, who believes that the attack on Tripoli has been timed deliberately to torpedo his plan to stage a national reconciliation conference this week. The conference, which is designed to pave the way for unification of government and institutions across eastern and western Libya, has been postponed. The UK, which is lead state on drafting decisions on the Libya at the UN security council, is trying to gather support for a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire, but is struggling because of objections expressed by a range of countries including Russia. The US approach to the crisis has also become more ambiguous in recent days, with senior state department officials increasingly reluctant to condemn Haftar by name, and stressing that Libya needs security, and an end to militia rule. In a sign of the international tensions surrounding Libya, which has huge oil resources, a LNA spokesman denounced the Gulf state of Qatar for its “insolent intrusion into Libyan politics”. He was referring to a Qatari call for the UN arms embargo on the government to be lifted, or enforced properly on all sides. The LNA has accused Qatar ever since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 of financially backing Islamist militia that are strong in Tripoli and Misrata, Libya’s third largest city. The LNA said: “We demand that Qatar cease meddling in Libyan affairs. The Qatari phase in Libyan affairs is now over and they will never control the resources of the Libyan people. We will destroy Qatari ambitions in Libya. Qatar will not be able to control oil and gas resources in Libya. We will punish the countries that have supported terrorism. We have the ability to punish whoever we want whenever we want.” The LNA has largely been supported by the United Arab Emirates and the Saudi Arabia, states that along with Egypt have been involved in a power struggle with Qatar. Qatar’s deputy prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, told the Italian daily La Repubblica that the postponed UN peace conference should be rescheduled and Haftar’s army made to withdraw. The arms embargo must be implemented “to prevent those countries that have been providing ammunitions and state-of-the-art weapons from continuing to do so”, he said.